Foodways: History You Can Eat
I first met Audrey Petty at the Southern Foodways Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. We got on well from the get go. I LOVED the essay she wrote on “Chitlins”—I actually read it to the audience at our first annual African American foodways dinner back in 2005. I’m really excited to have her hear to speak to us this year at our 7th annual dinner!
By Audrey Petty
Published in Saveur, reprinted in Best Food Writing 2006 and Cornbread Nation 4
Ours came frozen solid in a red plastic bucket. Butchered and packaged by Armour. Ten pounds in all. Cleaned, they’d reduce to much less, not even filling my mother’s cast-iron pot.
We usually shared them in the wintertime, Momma and I. Negotiations regarding their appearance began weeks in advance, around the dinner table. My mother would tell my father she was considering fixing chitlins for the holidays. My father would groan, twist his mouth, and protest in vain.
Even if I wasn’t in love with Wisconsin cheese, I’d still be intrigued by Ed Janus’s history. His grandfather owned one of the most famous (and Jewish) restaurants in St. Louis a century ago, he worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. back in the 60s, he’s reported for NPR, and he has had a decades-long love affair with Wisconsin dairying. I had the chance to ask him a few questions about his very colorful past and the great future of cheese in America’s Dairyland.
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